A YouGov poll for the Times on the Scottish independence referendum has caused some rather hysterical headlines today. The paper itself splashed with “Victory in reach for Salmond, poll shows”, and described the Union as being “on a knife edge” because of what the figures showed. There are only 16 days to go until the vote, and this latest poll has put support for independence at 47 per cent, against 53 per cent for those who wish to remain in the UK.
Here’s what the polling looks like:
— The Times of London (@thetimes) September 2, 2014
YouGov polled 1,063 adults in Scotland between 28 August and 1 September.
The Times article analysing this polling points out that, “after months of stagnation, support for separation has risen by eight percentage points in a month”. Another YouGov poll at the beginning of last month put the Yes campaign at 41 per cent support, it then jumped a fortnight later to 43 per cent, so there has been a clear rise in recent weeks in support for independence, at least according to the polls.
Peter Kellner, the president of YouGov, has stressed today that this poll’s results should not be dismissed. He has written on the YouGov website today:
Over the next 16 days, we shall find out whether the momentum of the past month is sustained, or if the ‘yes’ vote has peaked following the second television debate. But even if ‘no’ finally wins the day, it now looks less likely that it will win by a big enough margin to deliver a knock-out blow to supporters of independence. If the final vote is anything like our current poll figures, I would not bet much against a second referendum being held within the next 10-15 years.
This is an interesting conclusion. The Better Together campaign, even if it continues to be confident of a referendum No vote, will worry about the “neverendum” scenario, where the Yes campaign loses by so little that it would lead to another independence referendum. I also hear from a Labour aide to an MP in a seat in the north of England that there is concern among representatives of northern seats that such a close result in the referendum will lead to northern regions in England envisaging more autonomy for themselves. Such a close vote, even if – as is still widely expected – Scotland remains in the Union, may still have a great deal of constitutional implications.